Gardening Question of the Day

We're building a new home. Can I plant my new azalea plant now, then transplant it to the new house?

Transplanting is not recommended for young plants, so you may want to consider that. Also, it would have been best to have a year's lead time on the move. That way you could do root pruning to create a root ball, cutting off roots with a shovel in a circle around the plant. Then, after digging up, tie the root ball together for the move for best success. Azaleas should be transplanted in early spring or fall if the weather is mild, while the plant is dormant, but the ground is not yet frozen.

Last 7 Days

The leaves on my lilac have been turning yellow, then brown, and then falling off, but the flowers are fine. What is wrong with it, and how can I save it?

Your plant has lilac blight, which affects just the leaves. To save the tree, get rid of the diseased leaves, then spray the rest of the leaves with a copper solution.

Can I plant vegetables on a plot that formerly had Asiatic lilies and bearded irises growing on it?

I have not found a reference that indicates there would be a negative residual effect on your vegetables from Asiatic lilies or bearded irises.

I'd like to give 'Paper White' narcissi as Christmas gifts. When is the best time to plant my bulbs?

Plant your 'Paper White' bulbs in early November to have blooms in time for Christmas. Use a bulb pan, and plant the bulbs in stones.

I want to make sure my Christmas cactus produces flowers in December. What should I do now?

Buds will form on a Christmas cactus when it is kept at a constant temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit or when you give it at least 13 hours of complete darkness each night. If you can achieve either of these conditions, the December blooms will be well worth the effort.

I live in Chicago and have Stargazer lillies in large plastic containers. How should i winterize them?

Dig up the bulbs and store them in ventilated bags (onion sacks) in a cool room out of the sun. Make sure to wrap the bulbs in moist (damp, not wet) newspaper, or put the bulbs in bags of barely moist peatmoss sphagnum. The material must be damp, not wet. If the bulbs are allowed to dry out, they will die. If kept too wet, the bulbs will rot. Check the material (sphagnum/newspaper) every few weeks to re-wet it if necersssary. The cooler you keep the bulbs the better (above freezing).

When did people begin growing apple trees as a cash crop?

People have grown apple trees for cultivation for many centuries, improving the stock over time through seed selection and grafting for propagation. The kinds of apples we have today are the combined results of natural cross-pollination among several species. Control of diseases and pests in apple crops is a costly undertaking, requiring increasingly bigger orchards where large growers can achieve cost efficiency.

Is it possible to grow rosemary in an outdoor bed in Nashville, Tennessee, without having to dig it up and bring it inside before the first frost? I am wondering whether heavy mulching at the base and a burlap cover over the plant would help it live through our mild winter freezes.

Since rosemary is a tender shrub that overwinters well in Zones 8 through 10 and Nashville is in Zone 6, you'll be taking a risk by leaving yours outside through the cold season. But it's worth a shot. Mulching heavily is a good idea -- try surrounding the plant with leaves packed into black plastic bags -- and consider building a cold frame for the plant. Also, if you can, put the plant on the south side of your house, up against a wall for protection, but in full sun. This may provide enough warmth to help the plant survive the winter.

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